The Apple iPad: Three Unanswered Questions
Today is the first day that consumers can put down money for an Apple iPad. If you pre-order a Wi-Fi model now, you can avoid waiting in the inevitable around-the-block lines when the gadget hits Apple Stores on Saturday, April 3. (If you want the Wi-Fi + 3G model, though, you’ll have to wait until late April.)
I know I’m going to buy an iPad sooner or later, but I don’t think I’ll pre-order one, mainly because of three big questions that haven’t yet been answered to my satisfaction. One of these is a matter that Apple could clear up, but hasn’t. The other two are questions that may not have definitive answers until the device has been out for a while and people have had some time to use it, and developers have had some time to figure out the best business models.
1. What will it feel like to use the iPad? I want to test-drive the device in a store before I decide which version to buy. In part, I’m concerned about the iPad’s ruggedness. If it strikes me as an all-purpose device that I can throw in my backpack and take everywhere, I’ll probably spend the extra for a 3G version. On the other hand, if it seems more like a delicate accessory that I’m only going to use on my couch at home, then one of the Wi-Fi versions will be perfectly sufficient.
Just as important, it’s still not clear to me how people will actually hold the iPad. In ads like this one, Apple almost always shows iPad users reclining with their knees raised, with the device positioned against their legs. If this is the only posture that makes ergonomic sense—that is, if the device has to be perched upon some kind of surface, such as your lap, before you can use it to full advantage—this could limit the machine’s usefulness, skewing it more toward recreation than productivity.
I’m hoping that it will be possible to hold the iPad with one hand while operating it with the other, but that all depends on how heavy it feels, how much gripping friction its glass and aluminum surfaces provide, and what kinds of accessories are available. All reasons that I want to try an iPad before I buy one.
2. Which existing iPhone apps will work on the iPad, and which will not? Apple has been careful to say that the Pad will run “almost all” of the more than 150,000 apps already available for the iPhone and the iPod Touch in the iTunes App Store. That “almost” is what I’m curious about. It’s a critical issue, because … Next Page »